Students’ fury after their training is delayed following decision by East of England Ambulance Service Trust


- Credit: Archant

Paramedic students have reacted angrily after the region's ambulance trust announced delays to their training.

East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) has told 100 of its students that they must wait months before going to their training courses at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

The news comes just four months after chief executive Robert Morton told staff the trust would not support any action that 'defers students from completing their studies'.

Trade union Unison said it was disappointed by the news, while an EEAST spokesman denied that the trust intended to defer or cancel the student paramedic programme.

Last year students faced delays because their courses at ARU and University of East Anglia were not approved for accreditation in time.

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An EEAST student, who did not want to be named, said: 'We had letters last week telling us the trust was delaying our training – it's really annoying and upsetting.

'We already had delays from last year and a few months ago our chief executive told us we won't be delayed further – then we are.

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'You can't believe anything they say.'

The letter from the trust to students, seen by this newspaper, blamed last year's course accreditation problems for the number of students entering the training programme. It said there was a 'disproportionate spread' across the trust that limits the availability of mentoring in some areas.

Fraer Stevenson, Unison's branch secretary for the trust, said the trust needed to urgently focus on retention to ensure students have experienced mentors to support them in their development.

'It's very disappointing that our members are being delayed further,' she added.

'We will work with the trust to try to mitigate against these delays; it's clearly a very worrying time for our student paramedics.'

A spokesman for the ambulance trust, which is missing its emergency response waiting time targets, said: 'The number of people within our learning environment, in particular within Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and Cambridgeshire areas, has created significant pressures on mentoring and clinical placement co-ordination capacity, and can impact on the quality of the student experience.

'Our own feedback and that from our partners at ARU and Health Education England clearly indicated the need to re-plan the timing of students to ensure students had equality of access to clinical placements, were fully prepared for the university environment, and had an improved learning experience.

'The re-planning looks to support student progress with as minimal impact as reasonably possible.

'We have communicated directly to students and we plan to continue this dialogue when the re-planning has been complete along with having discussions with Unison.'

The trust declined to answer whether students who faced delays to their training and subsequent qualification as paramedics would be financially compensated.

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